The holiday season often goes hand in hand with outright excess. From food to decorations to gift giving, it is the one time of year when people throw their eco-consciousness to the wind and commit egregiously wasteful and non-green acts. And it’s no wonder when you consider how much social pressure there is to conform to the “standard” style of gifting, which involves spending a lot of money on brand new (and harmfully manufactured) products.
On top of that, between catering to your visiting family, making your home décor reflect the season, and cooking enough food to feed an army, you barely have time to think, much less think about what kind of impact you’re having on the planet. Luckily, there are some really easy ways to avoid the holiday hustle and go green with your gifts this year, even if you don’t have a lot of time (or money).
Save Christmas by Going Green
- Re-gift. This is hands down the greenest way to give a gift. You might want to toss last year’s fruitcake (no matter how well-preserved it looks) and opt instead for useful or appealing items in closets and other storage. You can give “antique” toys that your kids have outgrown, extra bottles of wine that you’ll never get to (along with a couple of glasses…you likely have more that you’ll ever use), and pretty much anything that is still in original packaging (from small appliances to kitchen gadgets to bath items and candles). Clear out your clutter and give away something that you won’t use, but your friends and family might love (just be careful not to give it to the same person who gave it to you!).
- Gift cards. Most people secretly appreciate the gift of greenbacks, but it is still considered a bit tacky (and not very thoughtful). By choosing a gift card from a shop you know they love, you can give them the opportunity to get whatever they want while still looking like you put some thought into it. The best part is, gift cards require no bulky wrapping paper that will only go straight to the landfill.
- Reclaimed. A great way to save on gifts you know people want is to find them at local thrift stores or by searching on Craig’s List. If you call ahead to find out when shipments come in at thrift stores, you can pick over the nicer items before they get snatched up. And with Craig’s List you can find almost anything (and usually at stellar prices). For bigger ticket items like designer handbags or jewelry, try eBay instead. You might pay a bit more, but you’re likely to find exactly what you’re looking for (and generally at less cost). And all of these options mean you’re giving some special merchandise a second life instead of buying it new.
- Homemade bath sets. This will take a little time, but save you a lot of money. You’ll want to start by reserving glass jars (and lids) throughout the year so you’ll have pretty receptacles for your concoctions. Then you can browse online to find simple recipes for custom bath salts, soaps, shampoos, and lotions. You can use all natural products (no chemicals) and set up an easy assembly line that will produce gorgeous gift baskets in no time at all.
- Baked goods. You’re no doubt going to be spending a lot of time baking during the holidays, so why not take it a step further and use your delectable treats as gifts? Select a few easy recipes and make a list of all the ingredients (and amounts) you’ll need so you can buy in bulk and get everything with one trip to the store. Then bake and freeze your cookies, cakes, and breads until you are ready to give them away. Thaw, decorate, and wrap in 100% recycled paper for a holiday gift that everyone will love!